Blog Archive

Friday, March 29, 2013

Women’s History Month Mentoring Session

by Vanita Kataria
Vienna, VA
Senior Associate – Risk Advisory

McGladrey’s Washington DC Metro area offices organized a mentoring session with the offices’ successful leaders on March 29, 2013. In the Vienna office, this mentoring session turned into an open, honest and empowering question and answer hour with Dara Castle, the Washington Metro managing partner and the partner-in-charge of the private equity practice in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as the firm’s government contracting practice.

Dara was asked questions by an audience of 25 women and five men about her work-life balance as a working mother, leadership qualities and skills, the roles her mentors have played in her life, experiences within the firm and with clients, compromises and adjustments women make, her goals and achievements and many more! Dara’s successes, achievements and experiences were reflected in the excitement with which she answered these questions. She stressed that she does not view gender difference as a negative or positive trait – it just is what it is. Gender, racial, religious, or any other differences need to be appreciated and set aside in a professional environment. Dara also empowered the women and men in the room by sharing several examples from her professional and personal life where she has treated differences and changes as opportunities rather than challenges. She drove the point home that in communications with anyone, we find commonality and that’s how relationships evolve. Below are a few of the questions Dara was asked during the session.

Q. How did you develop leadership qualities or were you born with them?A. A little bit of both; I’m naturally an extrovert. Leadership is not something you arrive at; leaders are continually learning and honing their skills.

Q. As a working mother, how do you gracefully leave a meeting when you know your little child is waiting for you?A. It depends on the situation; you can communicate a hard stop to a client or coworker. The reason does not necessarily need to be explained. Everyone can have external commitments and it is okay to meet them.

Q. Tell us about your mentors.A. Mentors have been a big part of my career; people feel hesitant to ask for a mentoring relationship, however, mentors feel grateful to know that you seek their advice. More than one mentor is needed for different aspects like leadership, being a mom, a woman, etc. Mentors that are the best are your strongest champion when you’re not in the room and your strongest critic when you are. Integrity, honesty and open-ness are required in that relationship.

Q. How do you find balance between work and family?A. Balance is different for each person. You have to know yourself and understand the role you take on in your career. My balance perspective is always changing.

Q. if you could look back and talk to yourself, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?A. I think there are two things that I wish I had understood better earlier. I wish I had earlier in my career grasped the importance of dedicating time to people who are junior to me in order to develop them. Second thing: you’re never ‘done.’ I used to get frustrated with how frequently things changed in the firm, with how often softwares changed; I wish I had gained an appreciation for the fact that the world and business environment are ever changing earlier. For many years now, I have run toward change and one of the prequalifications for being a leader is being very adaptable to change. Treat change as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Q. Anything more to add to your journey (for new associates)?A. You probably don’t have the full appreciation for our brand yet; you represent the company to the client as you spend the most time with them. You’re largely dealing with people a bit older than you. Remember that cultural norms are different for them and you. You have to adapt to them. Example, don’t sit in the conference room and email your client… walk up to them and talk. Misinterpretation of a tone in an email happens all the time.

Q. How do you set goals and achieve them?A. I am always seeking a new challenge. My goals are around acquiring new skills and challenges. I always have my eyes on the path less traveled; if no one is going towards it, I will.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The McGladrey Classic Brings New Talent to McGladrey

Charles Heller
On the final day of 2012’s The McGladrey Classic last October, Charles Heller, an avid golf fan, was lounging on his couch watching televised coverage of the PGA TOUR event.

“I was already vaguely familiar with McGladrey and knew it was one of the large accounting firms in the U.S.,” says Charles. “But watching tournament coverage during those four days, I’d decided it might make sense to do a little research on McGladrey.”

Employed at a small consulting firm located just one hour north of Sea Island, Ga. (where The McGladrey Classic takes place), Charles was considering a possible job change and knew he wanted to locate to a big city like New York or Chicago. “I went online to check out McGladrey job openings, and I couldn’t believe it when I found the perfect position listed,” he says.

Senior Associate – Risk Advisory Services/Financial Institutions, Chicago office.

According to Charles, things happened pretty quickly after that. He inquired online about the job that very same Sunday evening. By 8:30 the next morning, a recruiter for McGladrey had Charles on the phone. On Tuesday, a McGladrey recruiter from Denver also contacted him. And on Wednesday morning, while traveling on business, Charles woke up in his hotel room and turned on the TV and saw—you guessed it—a McGladrey commercial.

“I don’t recall exactly which commercial it was,” says Charles. “But it doesn’t matter. All I knew was that, in one week, I’d gone from being vaguely familiar with McGladrey to being fully aware that my future career might be tied to this firm.”

It wasn’t long after that seven-day whirlwind McGladrey exposure that Charles was in Chicago on vacation. He’d wisely packed an interview suit and was able to use it when he met with McGladrey’s Risk Advisory Services Director. The interview and all follow-up contacts went well. On Jan. 21, Charles started his new job at McGladrey.

“Charles has been a great addition to our team with his industry knowledge and eagerness to serve clients,” says the McGladrey consulting director. “We are very thankful for The McGladrey Classic bringing us this talent.”

“I was a little anxious about making the move,” says Charles. “Leaving a company of only 30 people to join the fifth largest accounting firm in the country was a leap of faith. But McGladrey has a very welcoming culture.”

Young Charles and his Grandpa
on the green.
His new McGladrey coworkers have helped smooth Charles’s transition, and he’s settled in nicely. Now he’s looking forward to the possibility of someday representing his new firm on the golf course at Sea Island, Ga.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Busy, busy, busy!

By Thomas Starr
Assurance Intern
San Diego, CA

It’s incredible to think that my internship at McGladrey is half-way over. The last month and a half has flown by, as I’ve kept myself busy learning new things in the heart of busy season. On my first client engagement, I was assigned to audit cash. I know auditing cash is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the complete audit is concerned, but it was exciting to have the responsibility for the completion of an entire section of the audit. On my second and third engagements I got exposure to other areas as well, including accounts payable, fixed assets, payroll, and inventory. Everyone on the engagement team was very helpful in guiding me through some of the steps, but at the same time allowed me to independently work through it. I would typically try to figure it out myself before I would ask for clarification. Messing up is part of the process. McGladrey does not expect interns to know everything, and all the professionals are, in my experience, happy to point you in the right direction. It is amazing how quickly and how much you can learn in this kind of atmosphere.

The bullpen stays pretty emtpy,
as most professional are out in the field
In the downtime between engagements, which doesn’t appear common during busy season, I come into the San Diego office. The audit staff who are not out in the field typically work out of an area called the bullpen. Analogous to a bullpen in baseball, it is where you hang out (i.e. check email, do small tasks you’ve been asked to complete, study for the CPA exam, etc.) until you are called into action. There is always a senior or manager who could use an intern’s help, so it is helpful to let them know you are in the office and unassigned. Without failure, they will find a way to keep you busy. I have been asked to send out A/R confirmations, do some inventory price testing, drive to a client to deliver some items, and much more. It is safe to say that as a busy season intern, you will be called on for assistance frequently. It is an opportunity to touch a lot of different areas in a short period of time.

Beyond the professional growth an internship at McGladrey offers, it also has had a few other perks! To give a specific example, the San Diego office recently got new conference room chairs, meaning the old ones were up for grabs. Well, as a college student who sits daily on many uncomfortable chairs, I could not pass up the opportunity to take a conference room chair home with me. So I found a way (not sure how) to stuff it in my tiny car, and now it’s my new desk chair at home. Nifty, huh? Another perk? Friday Funday! A couple Fridays back we had an office poker tournament after work, and that was a fun time until I lost. Just kidding, the free food cured the sadness of being ousted in the early rounds.

Mmm, nachos.

Overall, the experience has been great, and I am looking forward to learning more during my time at McGladrey!

The Truth about Business Travel

Melissa Young
Assurance Intern
Raleigh, NC

When I was little, my dad used to travel for work frequently. He’d go to exotic places like Paris, India and Milwaukee (I was 6 and not great with geography). I was always jealous of his trips. As auditors, we get to travel frequently. It’s true that it’s not the same as going on vacation but it’s still not bad. One manager I worked with on a travel engagement put it best saying “I like traveling for work because I can focus better when I’m out of town. There are fewer distractions.” I completely agree with this viewpoint. On the road, you don’t have to worry about cooking dinner, cleaning your house, or feeling guilty for working instead of hanging out with your friends. I think I’m the most productive on the out of town engagements. It is also a great way to get to know your colleagues better. Nothing brings you closer than trying to brave DC traffic together and sharing three meals per day. Or even trying to brave driving home through an ice storm like another Raleigh intern, Tom Maeser, had to do in January.

Ice storm in January

I have been at my desk approximately 8 days out of my entire internship and I have spent the rest of the time in the field. I really enjoy this because I’m always meeting new people, seeing new clients and offices. The space we work in varies from client to client. I was spoiled at my very first client because they set us up in a beautiful conference room with huge windows and a nice view.

At a client
So far this busy season, I have made it to Virginia, Philadelphia, and DC. I even got to have dinner with some of my family while I was in Philly. It was nice being able to see them since I wouldn’t normally be able to make that trip this time of year. 

The most important part of business travel is flexibility. I know recently some people from the office were snowed in and flights were delayed during the last big snow storm. Another mishap that I’ve heard of from not one, but two people is that they have completely forgotten to pack pants when they go on the road for the week. Oops! Thankfully they were able to laugh it off and go to the local mall to buy replacements. Overall, business travel is different than what I imagined when I was little, but it’s still a great experience. You may even get lucky and get to have this as the view from your hotel room for a week (like a certain Raleigh intern).

View from hotel


Daniel Verastegui
Tax Intern
Schaumburg, IL

It has been intense here at McGladrey, but not unbearable. We are in mid-season and everyone is focused and determined to get their returns completed. Even the interns are getting really busy. It is not like the first few weeks where we would come in and send out emails letting people know that we were available. Now people gladly give us tasks to do to keep us busy. The other interns and I all come in excited to learn new things and get our work done every day. We all feel that having people trust us with some large tasks will really help us grow, not only in our professional lives but in our personal lives as well. The days go by so much faster when I am busy. I’m not going to lie, working on new things that I am not familiar with can be frustrating, but I can always count on someone here at the firm to help me out. I am learning new things everyday and things that I have done in the past, now seem pretty easy.

Now that we are in the middle of busy season, my projects are larger and more complex than when I first started. The projects I receive now that are similar to the projects I received when I first started take less than half the time to complete. So there is a learning curve, but the job is not impossible. There have been times that I have gotten stuck and frustrated that I just wanted to slam my head against the table, that’s when I knew to go ask for help.

Now, do not get intimidated! That’s just the way it is during busy season. Luckily, we have a Fun Committee! The Fun Committee is awesome. We have Tuesday Trivia, Themed Saturday’s and other miscellaneous competitions. Believe it or not, the Fun Committee helps relieve people’s stress in the office. Even with the Fun Committee around, things can get tough not only for an intern, but for everyone in the office; all the way from the support staff to the partners. I deal with the stress by staying positive. As long as a person stays positive when coming to work every morning the day will go by much smoother. I stay positive even when I mess up, because that allows me to learn from my mistakes. If I don’t I’ll just make more mistakes, which is not good. 

The best tips I could give someone who will enter busy season for the first time are: get here early, communicate, and ASK for HELP. I know we are only mid way through busy season, but I, as well as the other interns in the Schaumburg office, want to thank everyone in our office for making us feel welcomed and for helping us A LOT during these few weeks. Special thanks to our navigators. Also special thanks to the associates, managers, and partners whom have taken time off from their own tasks to come and personally help us complete ours. (I know we probably have annoyed you by now!) Last but not least I would personally like to thank the fellow interns and new hires here in Schaumburg: Natalie, Tom, Nicole, Nick and Ryan.

The Adjustment Process

By Dorothy Schwartzkopf
Assurance Intern
Minneapolis, MN

It’s hard to believe, but I’m already more than halfway done with my internship! This month has been full of new experiences including: working with clients, fun office events, and adjusting to working full time.

I remember walking into the office on my first day of client work after training, expecting to know absolutely nothing. I felt very nervous, I was new after all, what did I know? My first day went better than I ever could have expected. My coworkers took the time to explain to me not only what I was doing but how it fit into the big picture of what was being accomplished. I had a ton of questions the first day (and to be honest every day after) but I’ve realized asking questions is the most important part of my job.

As an intern, I wanted to learn as much as I could and at the same time, make a good impression through my work. I was fearful of making a mistake. I soon found it comforting to know after I completed a work paper at least three other people would review it before it became final.

Over my first month, I was eased slowly into being an auditor. I was placed on the financial institutions (FI) team so most of the jobs I worked on were banks, credit unions or investment funds. My first few weeks, I was consistently scheduled at one client site for a week before moving on to a new client. The variety was great. I enjoyed traveling to a new location each week and getting to work on similar sections of the audit with each new client. At the beginning I initially focused on the cash section but since then I have worked on many more sections including investments, equity, fixed assets and debt.

I quickly found that working on the FI team was different from working anywhere else in McGladrey. Banks are set up differently than most businesses in the sense that loans are assets and deposits are liabilities. It put a new perspective on what I had learned about auditing in school. As I have always had an interest in the banking industry I really enjoyed learning more about how it works.

Another thing I like about being on the FI team is the people I get to work with. In the Minneapolis office FI is one of our smallest industry groups with less than 10 people total. It has given me the opportunity to get to know everyone that I work with on a more personal level. In addition, I typically get to work with the same people every week, which was comforting to me as someone new to McGladrey.

Dorothy and her boyfriend, Jabob, at the holiday party.
I know it seems like all I have done during the past month is work, and to some extent that’s true. It’s surprising how fast each day goes by. Since it’s busy season there is a lot of work to get done and I’m able to stay busy making long days go by quickly. It also helps that I move on to a new client each week. It allows me to focus all of my attention on one project for a short period of time and the next week I start fresh. Another thing I enjoy is all the fun events that McGladrey plans during busy season. In January I attended the holiday party at a fancy country club. The food was delicious and I spent the night socializing with coworkers and playing casino games. Every Saturday we have “dress up days” in the office with prizes going to the best costume. Some of the themes so far have been jersey day and ugly sweater day. So it’s not all hard work!

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better internship. Thinking back it's crazy to think about all that I've learned, all the amazing people that I've met and all the rewarding experiences I've had.


Where Does YOUR Life Begin?

Written by Selin Terzi
Tax Intern
Stamford, CT

Just some light reading...
Friends, family, classmates and coworkers often ask me how I manage balancing the demands of school and my internship. As one can imagine, balancing school, work, and most importantly a social life can prove very difficult. As a fulltime student, my course load can, at times, seem overwhelming. However, it has also permitted me to develop skills necessary for working in challenging situations. While I wasn’t always good at time management, my first semester of college quickly taught me that to successfully abate unwanted stress, I needed to develop such skills. I previously believed I was busy just going to school and working on the weekends, but during the fall semester I took on an internship at a boutique investment firm in NYC while attending school as a fulltime student. This semester I’m following a similar schedule and concurrently experiencing the tax ‘busy season.'

My Dad, sister and me
before HS graduation!
I guess I have realized that life does not slow down; you get busier as the years go on and the complexities of your life increase. However, I can confidently say that I’m enjoying the ‘busyness’ of my life. I’m constantly learning new things, challenging myself and growing professionally. As a newly turned 20 year old, I believe I have experienced more than others in my age group and I look forward to continually learning. I always tell myself that I have no reason not to be successful. I have been given all the tools to make something out of myself, thanks to my family. Sometimes I take a step back and realize how lucky I am to have all of these opportunities. If it wasn’t for my father’s courage to come to the United States from Turkey at a young age of 25 and to chase his dreams, I would have never accomplished any of the things that I have thus far. As Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My father stepped out of his comfort zone when he left his home country and with a lot of hard work, and even more dedication, became the man he is today.

My cube at McGladrey! Yes, I use ALL
of the monitors. Sometimes I wish I
had another 3!
Sometimes McGladrey seems like a foreign country to me, but choosing to work here required less bravery. I chose to come to McGladrey because I knew the firm could provide me with all of the tools necessary for success. The partners all have an open door policy and I find it astonishing that our leader of Northeast Tax always stops to talk to me when he is in the office. This is the type of environment I see myself in the future. An environment where growth is encouraged not deterred; where all of your peers want you to succeed and no one steps on another’s toes to get ahead.

In all I am eternally grateful to my father for instilling in me the virtues and beliefs necessary for success and to McGladrey for investing in me, guiding my professional pursuits and giving me the opportunity to use my inherited values to obtain success in the accounting field.